India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have moved a step forward in enforcing an extradition agreement that would allow around 1200 convicted Indians jailed in the country to return home to spend the remaining part of their prison term.

The UAE Cabinet formally approved the mutual agreement on Sunday, which had been earlier signed last year.

The decision follows another ruling from the UAE government that allows expatriates who have overstayed the duration of their visas to either regularise their documents after paying a fine or to leave the country without any penalty.

However, the response for the two month amnesty scheme which will run till February 4 next year has been lukewarm so far, the Indian ambassador to the UAE, MK Lokesh said at a press conference on Sunday.

“Only around 2000 people have so far availed the amnesty,” Mr. Lokesh observed. Given the tepid response to the offer, there is no need to take volunteers from the Indian associations based in the Emirates at this stage, the Ambassador said. However, contingency planning was required to cater for a possible last minute rush at the immigration counters just before the amnesty expired.

The Indian envoy added that the India based airlines were in the loop for ensuring that travel ticket costs remained reasonable for those who were exiting for home after availing the amnesty.

Under a similar scheme in 2007, around 50,000 Indians had left UAE, while 36,000 had regularised their visas.

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